– Attorney General Anne Milgram announced
today that New Jersey has signed onto a multi-state
settlement agreement with Vonage, one of the
nation’s largest providers of a service
known as “Voice over Internet Protocol,”
an Internet-based phone service. The settlement
requires Vonage to make significant changes
to its marketing practices and procedures
for honoring consumer cancellation requests,
and to provide refunds to eligible consumers.
total of 32 states are party to the settlement
announced today. New Jersey previously investigated
Vonage business practices on its own, and
reached a settlement with the company in 2006
regarding sales and marketing of merchandise.
Under that settlement, Vonage agreed to pay
the state $45, 945 and comply with state laws,
rules and regulations including the New Jersey
Consumer Fraud Act, state advertising regulations
and the Do Not Call Law.
settlement addresses consumer complaints that
Vonage, a Delaware-based corporation with
offices in Holmdel, made it difficult or impossible
to cancel their Vonage service. Vonage formerly
paid incentives to customer service representatives
for retaining or “saving” customers
when they called to cancel. Today’s
agreement puts strict limitations on attempts
to dissuade consumers from canceling, and
requires recording and verification of consumer
settlement announced today addresses a number
of Vonage marketing practices that have led
to consumer confusion about the cost associated
with Vonage equipment and service. Specifically,
Vonage will be revising its disclosures regarding
the offer of “free” services,
money back guarantees and trial periods.
agreement puts in place a broad restitution
plan requiring Vonage to make refunds to eligible
consumers who filed complaints regarding unauthorized
charges between January 2004 and March 16,
state’s investigation of the Vonage
case was led by Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan,
Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.
addition to New Jersey, other participants
in today’s settlement are the states
of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii,
Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine,
Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico,
North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South
Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont,
Washington, West Virginia and Kentucky.
Attorney General Jeff Koziar of the Division
of Law’s Consumer Fraud Prosecution
Section handled the Vonage matter on behalf
of the state.